Press release - winter pressures and general practice
Date sent: Wednesday 13 December 2017
Please consider using this information to help your readers over the winter.
The cold weather has now come and follows a period of exceptionally mild weather. For the NHS this will mean that the demands on general practice and the hospital services will increase, often called winter pressures.
At this time of year, we see a significant increase in the number of patients with coughs, colds, sore throats and flu like symptoms. The majority of these conditions are caused by viruses, they will not respond to antibiotics and will get better after a few days. There is also an increase in the numbers of strokes and heart attacks in the winter months, thought to be caused by the cold temperatures increasing a persons blood pressure and it taking longer for this to return to normal.
What can you do?
- Make sure you have the Flu jab – it’s the best form of protection against contracting the Flu – this is particularly true for young children, those over 65, pregnant women and anyone with a long-term condition (heart disease, Diabetes, Respiratory disease etc) or if you are a carer.
- If you develop a cough, cold or sore throat – take some paracetamol, drink plenty of fluid and if necessary seek further advice from NHS 111, NHS Choices website or your local pharmacy. There is an excellent website called Self Care Forum - http://www.selfcareforum.org/ which has some excellent fact sheets about self-care from backache to sore throat. You can also look on the NHS website NHS Choices www.nhs.uk. Your practice may also have reliable self-care information on its website.
- Use local pharmacies for advice about common winter ailments; the pharmacist can give advice about medications and sometimes assess you
- Keep warm - Keep your home at 18C (65F) or higher if you can.
- Eat well – hot meals and drinks can keep you warm.
- Make sure you order and collect your prescriptions early enough – don’t run out. Take your medication regularly for existing conditions. Perhaps put a reminder on your phone or calendar a few days before. In particular, think about the Christmas period now – are you due to run out?
- Take regular exercise. Exercise is good for both your physical and mental health.
- Everyone should have a medicine cabinet – with a thermometer and common treatments for pain, allergies, diarrhoea and vomiting as well as treatments for minor injuries. Your local pharmacist can advise you for each of appropriate medications for each of these categories. There are often a variety of products that contain the same medical ingredient – these can be over a range of prices – look for the active ingredient – again your pharmacist can advise you on the available options.
On an average day in excess of 1,000,000 patients will see a GP in England and in the winter months this can increase by 30%.
Empower yourself before you book an appointment to see your GP please consider the alternatives that are available to you.
Wessex Local Medical Committee represents all GPs and Practices in Bath and NE Somerset, Dorset, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Swindon and Wiltshire and supports general practice in the Channel Islands.
Dr Nigel Watson
Churchill House, 122-124 Hursley Rd
Chandler's Ford, Eastleigh
Hants. SO53 1JB (Registered Office)